COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) has worked hard to aid Joplin community rebuilding efforts. Although the campus suffered no damage from the storm, MSSU quickly extended its resources to respond to the impact of the EF5 tornado which battered the cities of Joplin, Duquesne and surrounding areas.
MSSU jumped to support Joplin recovery within hours of the disaster while remaining open, on schedule and encouraging visitors. While the institution itself wasn't damaged, hundreds of faculty, staff and students suffered losses -- both lives and property. MSSU continued to support the recovery efforts as new and returning students completed summer classes and began the fall semester Aug. 22, 2011.
"MSSU has done wonders in helping the Joplin community get back on its feet," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Karl of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "They set a wonderful example of how a community should pull together after devastation. They received no direct damage, but they were the perfect neighbor to Joplin survivors."
Immediately, numerous university facilities were adapted to meet the needs of the recovering community. The university's new Health Science building served as a Surge Medical Facility and accommodated overflow patients from surrounding hospitals, filling the gap when St. John's Regional Medical Center suffered a direct hit.
The university's music building hosted a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center which provided disaster assistance services to survivors. Representatives from FEMA, along with those from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration, the IRS and others, were present to provide information.
The university also hosted an AmeriCorps managed Volunteer Reception Center. The university's Leggett & Platt Athletic Center became a Red Cross shelter for victims and their pets, and the Governor's Community Resource Center used campus facilities for an outreach effort that brought thousands of citizens to campus seeking a variety of assistance from disaster unemployment to temporary housing.
MSSU opened its residence halls to house the numerous police and fire rescue teams responding to the storm. In addition to lodging, hot meals were provided for rescue workers, Red Cross shelter clients, volunteers and other workers. Numerous goods were stored in the university's physical plant facility − including food, water, toiletries and mattresses − to provide necessities to survivors.
The MSSU campus also hosted several conferences, meetings, and fundraisers, from benefit concerts to a memorial service, hosted by Gov. Jay Nixon, where President Obama spoke. About 10,000 people came to the MSSU campus, filling Taylor Auditorium and four overflow areas.
Beginning the third week following the tornado, the university worked with organizations planning benefit programs and additional relief efforts. The Missouri House of Representatives Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery conducted a special hearing on campus. MSSU also hosted the "I Am Joplin" for Joplin School District k-12 students, drawing more than 10,000 people to the campus.
Three months after the disaster, the university continues to collect donations for tornado victims and support the city every step along the road to recovery.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private nonprofit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and covers the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
Disaster recovery assistance i...